Norway Gets a New Doomsday Vault That Stores Data
Just in time for doomsday, Norway’s “Doomsday Vault” is getting an expansion. Officially known as the World Arctic Archive, the vault opened this week and has already taken submissions from two countries. This time, instead of storing seeds that will survive the apocalypse, the vault is archiving data using specially developed film.
Located about 620 miles from the North Pole in Svalbard, Norway, the World Arctic Archive has been built in “Mine 3,” an abandoned coal mine close to the Global Seed Vault. Countries are being encouraged to submit data that is particularly significant to their culture.
A Norwegian company called Piql is handling the conversion of digital data onto a photosensitive, multi-layered analog film. The company claims that the film is expected to last between 500-1000 years. Piql’s Katrine Loen Thomsen tells Norwegian outlet NRK that the process is similar to turning data into “big QR codes on film.”
According to documents from Piql, a country can upload test, images or audio-visual content to Piql’s servers. That data is then transferred to the special film that is designed to withstand significant wear and tear. It’s then placed into a secure box and housed inside the heavily fortified vault. As long as the internet and servers are still functioning, the data will remain searchable online. Upon request, it can be delivered digitally or shipped on a physical format of the users choice.
Analog storage is generally considered more future proof than digital. No special codecs or updates or operating systems would be necessary to decipher the information in the event that the planet suffers some sort of catastrophic reset.
Interesting - it will be a leap of faith to say that chemical film is a stable storage medium but it is already more stable than most digital forms. I have a lot of Kodachrome that I shot 40 years ago that has faded but the data is still recoverable in Lightroom. B&W is a lot more stable and B&W images from the 1800's are doing just fine both still and cinema.
This sort of idea has been promoted throughout history - we have our own Hall of Records (uncompleted) at Mt. Rushmore National Park.